So, I went and saw the Beer Wars movie last Thursday. I'm a little late with my review compared to a bunch of other people probably, but I wanted a few days to think about it.
The movie was shown across the country via a HD satellite transmission and there was a round table discussion afterwards.
The marketing of the movie was aimed at fans of craft brewing. The outtakes shown on the movie's site were all interviews with craft brewers. Then, one of the two subjects of the movie really wasn't a craft brewer. She was selling a caffeine infused beer. I guess it is a more beer-like version of Sparks. But the movie did not spend one minute showing where her beer was brewed. She previously was one of the founders of the Boston Beer Co. (aka Sam Adams) and their lead marketer. I guess she also had parallels with the director/writer/interviewer who was a big part of the success of Mike's Hard Lemonade.
Conversely, the other subject is the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, which is very much a craft brewery. The parts of the movie with him in it are all about his employees and his beers and the ongoing expansion of the brewery.
There seemed to be a lot of footage of the founder of Stone Brewing that didn't make its way into the movie. It is a shame, because he was great in the round table and I enjoyed his outtakes shown on the movie's site.
One odd thing is practially everyone in the movie was from the east coast. There was one scene with a founder of New Belgium (aka Fat Tire) who are in Colorado but that really was it west of Pennsylvania.
This movie should have focused on the craft brewers. The story of the woman trying to sell the caffeine beer was somewhat compelling, but a movie about beer should be more about the people making the beer vs the people trying to sell it. Playing up the large brewers and distributors as the bad guys was somewhat misplaced as well. Yeah, Bud and Miller/Coors want to own all of the beer market, but that ship has sailed and well made beers can succeed in the market now and into the future.
There are also real benefits to the large brewers making "good", or at least better, beer. A friend of mine was just diagnosed with Celiac disease. As a result of this disease, she can no longer consume gluten, which is in most beer. This depressed her a great deal, because, she, like most of us, likes to have a few beers when we go to Wrigley. She made a great discovery when we were at the game on Friday, they sell a gluten-free beer at Wrigley. Who makes the beer? An Anheiser Busch sub brand called Red Bridge. A-B is donating a part of the revenues of the beer to Celiac Disease research. Not so evil if you ask me.
Also, if A-B gets people drinking their American Ale, which is pretty good, maybe they'll graduate to something great from a craft brewer down the road.
I'm guessing the movie will be available on DVD at some point, and I'll probably buy it just for the brewer interviews that didn't make the movie.
In the end, the movie was entertaining, but not what I thought it was going to be going in, which in this case wasn't a good thing. This movie leaves the door open for someone else to make a more "historical" doumentary about craft brewing, especially if they focus on the west coast brewing scene.